What is a Wendy?
Wendy manages to take on just about everything and do it all perfectly. Of course this makes Wendys very attractive to potential mates and results in one of two likely romantic scenarios: 1. Wendys are in a fabulous romantic relationship that makes you seriously consider using the phrase “#couplegoals” even though it physically makes you cringe. 2. They are married to their work and as such have little time for dating and are thus contently single, despite having no shortage of options.
What is a Wanda?
Wanda only goes to her dorm to change and get new underwear, she does most of her sleeping in other people’s rooms. She’s been in relationships, flings, affairs, triads, diads, polycules and every other type of relationship or arrangement you can think of. She’s seen it all, and has even had marriage proposals. Let her break it down for you…
Dear Wendy and Wanda,
I’m kinda seeing someone right now, and I know labels are dumb and unnecessary and blah blah blah, but I’d like to be able to call whatever we are something. What is the difference between f*ck buddies (bump buddies), friends with benefits, or a relationship? I feel like everyone uses the three interchangeably or religiously sticks to one.
We all know the trope of the needy sitcom character who agonizes about the status of their relationship throughout the entire episode, progressively acting more and more bizarrely until they finally blert out the question that has been nagging at them: “what are we?” I understand that no one wants to be that person and I would agree that “labels are dumb” in the sense that simply placing a label on something does not necessarily mean that label is accurate or permanent. However it is totally natural to desire a vocabulary you can use to discuss your situation. In all relationships it is healthy to be able to articulate and take stock of where you and your partner stand and how those standings interact with each other; therefore you shouldn’t be ashamed or feel the need to minimize your desire for a better relationship vocabulary. The crucial point here is to make sure that you can have this discussion before the uncertainty starts to really bother you, in other words before you get to the spectacular sitcom spin out phase.
Now, to answer your direct question, I will start with a disclaimer. I have based these definitions on my own perceptions augmented with a quick survey of some friends and Urban Dictionary. That being said, these terms are highly subjective and even if there is one correct definition out there, that definition is not nearly as important as making sure that you and your partner are interpreting these terms in the same way. Okay here we go:
F*ck buddies: people who engage in a sexual relationship and are friendly as a result of that relationship but do not share a romantic or emotional connection. I.e. would not really hangout with each other outside of hooking up. Not exclusive.
Friends with benefits: Similar to the above in that it involves hooking up without a romantic element, however people in this kind of relationship enjoy each others company outside of sexual encounters and often enjoy an emotional connection to the other person (i.e. will confide in them and support them if they are feeling down). In this case the friendship is likely to continue even if the hookups stop. Not necessarily exclusive.
A Relationship: Ideally this involves all three main elements discussed above, a physical, emotional, and romantic connection. Normally exclusive. (Think Jake and Amy, or Leslie and Ben.)
F*ck Buddies: You make eyes at each other, one thing leads to another and BAM! You’re banging.
Friends with Benefits: You are friends, you find each other attractive or admire each other’s boinking abilities, you work out an arrangement. You screw each other. Thats it! But you have to keep it at that. The thing that differentiates Friends with Benefits (FWB) with Fuck Buddies and a relationship are feelings. Fuck Buddies can progress towads a FWB situation and are sometimes used interchangably, but is not necessarily the same. FWB has more emotional investment in the your ‘friend’ than in your fuck buddy relationship. The key to FWB is to make sure that feelings do not get involved or else it can progress to a relationship.
A Relationship: You like a person, you like having sex with that person, you and that person get along well and can communicate clearly, you and chosen person treat each other well and respectfully, you have a relationship.
With these given definitions, it is to your greatest benefit that you never, ever confuse them again. Heed my warning. Jokes! The reason they are so different is that there are so many ways to interact with them. Each person brings their own past relationship experiences (and baggage) to the table so people may these terms differently.